PD/GWSS Board Votes to Maintain $1.00 Assessment Rate for 2021 Harvest
June 24, 2021
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Pierce’s Disease (PD)/Glassy-winged Sharpshooter (GWSS) Board voted to recommend a wine and grape industry assessment rate for the 2021 harvest of $1.00 per $1,000 of crop value, the same rate assessed the past two years, at a June 22 meeting held via a Zoom web conference from Sacramento. The Board also approved a funding contract for a new research coordinator, expected to be announced later this year, and received an update from CDFA staff on efforts to prevent the invasive and destructive spotted lanternfly from entering California.
Assessment, Budget Actions
Based on current budget obligations and future needs, the Board decided to maintain the $1.00 assessment rate. Although the assessment rate was the same the previous two years, Board revenue was significantly different each year due to major differences in annual crop values. The higher-value, average-size 2019 crop resulted in $5.1 million in assessment revenue, whereas, the 2020 crop, characterized by light yields and unpicked grapes due to wildfires and smoke concerns resulted in $2.6 million in revenue. Board members believe the 2021 crop value should be higher than last year, and with available budget carryover funds, this will provide a sufficient fiscal cushion for Board programs.
Since 2001, the Board has collected assessment revenue totaling $74.8 million, with average annual assessment revenue of $3.7 million. The annual assessment rate has averaged $1.38 per $1,000 of crop value and ranged from $0.75 up to the maximum of $3.00—assessed only once during the Board’s first year in 2001 to create a budget to begin operation. The Board recommends the annual assessment rate to the CDFA Secretary who can approve or reject the recommendation, however, the Secretary has always approved the Board’s recommendations. Assessments for the 2021 crop are due January 10, 2022.
The Board this week also voted to approve its annual budget with expenditures of $6.9 million for Fiscal Year 2021-22. Wine industry assessments fund research projects and outreach efforts related to PD, GWSS and other Board-designated pests and diseases of winegrapes. The Board’s 2021-22 budget includes $3.8 million for research projects, in addition to $267,000 for CDFA staff administration, a $500,000 reserve fund for new projects, and has annually included a contingency fund ($2 million this year) to backfill county agriculture department programs for GWSS trapping and rapid responses to new finds, if funds from other sources fall short.
Research Program Coordinator
The Board approved a budget item of $311,000 over three years to contract for a new research coordinator based on recommendations by CDFA staff and research screening committee chair and Board member Steve McIntyre of Monterey Pacific, Inc. CDFA received a contract bid from a "highly" qualified individual in response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) issued earlier this year. CDFA plans to award the contract and announce the new research coordinator by the next Board meeting November 16.
SLF Control Efforts
In response to concerns about the potential threat to California winegrapes and other specialty crops posed by transport of the spotted lanternfly (SLF) (Lycorma delicatula) from infested locations in the eastern U.S., the Board was briefed on current CDFA efforts to prevent spread of this pest into California.
CDFA began a proceeding in September 2020 to establish under regulation a "Spotted Lanternfly Exterior Quarantine" to prevent the introduction and spread of the SLF in California, a regulatory action CDFA has taken for other pests such as the Japanese beetle. This regulation is expected to be passed and in effect by late July. The exterior quarantine places prohibitions and restrictions on the entry of materials and commodities into California from SLF infested areas in the eastern U.S. unless they follow specific requirements regarding inspections, treatments and other actions.
Other actions taken by CDFA include SLF training for state and county agricultural staff and border inspection station personnel, air cargo inspections, developing risk based maps and models, and mapping of statewide crop species at risk. CDFA conducted a statewide visual survey of 68 high-risk locations in 24 counties in 2020 and found no SLF. This survey will be expanded in 2021 to include 400 to 600 high-risk locations statewide. A problem with finding SLF and mapping its locations/distribution is that no trap system or pheromone lures are available to attract this species. In addition, it can be found in natural areas, croplands or landscaping, and a major host species is tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) that is widespread throughout California.
CDFA is working with the PD Board's outreach contractor Brown-Miller Communications to develop print and video outreach and educational materials about the SLF for the ag community and general public. A "Pest Alert" flyer on the SLF will soon be sent to growers by e-mail, and these materials will be posted on the CDFA PD Control Program website. The SLF Pest Alert video is posted at https://youtu.be/F3sjEAC0_XY